For the past 2.5 months, while dodging snowstorms, McDaniel College students from three classes - Ecology, Conservation Biology, and Animal Physiology - have engaged in authentic scientific research as part of their Quarry Life project. Each class, under the guidance of the professors at the helm, is exploring different ways of measuring the effectiveness of a stream restoration. In this way, each class project contributes to a bigger overarching goal of assessing the functional health of an entire ecosystem.
While Dr. Holly Martinson's Ecology and Dr. Scullion's ConBio students are focused on the habitat surrounding the stream, Dr. Katie Staab’s Animal Phys class has learned techniques to assess the health of aquatic animals living in the stream. Each of us uses a different approach to assess the function of the ecosystem to provide an integrative robust assessment.
Because we are scholar-educators, our project’s primary goal is to develop a template for future partnerships between quarries and nearby undergraduate institutions and community colleges. We propose that professors anywhere can incorporate authentic research experiences into their classes by incorporating small changes that will have mutualistic benefits to the quarry industry, research productivity, and the students’ learning.
- contributed by Dr. Katie Staab